Where I Lived

I ran across this article a few weeks back -- apparently the neighborhood where my parents live is where tourists to San Antonio should really be spending their time. Southtown San Antonio has been discovered by a New York Times travel writer, and gets a pretty decent write-up.

I'll give them this -- Taco Haven really is where it's at for quality breakfast tacos.

Geographically speaking, I grew up in this neighborhood. Back then it was generally "King William and environs", this Southtown nomenclature being a more recent innovation. (I seem to recall a period while I was in high school when some enterprising soul tried to get people to call the place SoHo, since it is also near a Houston Street, and while this thankfully didn't stick the impulse behind Southtown is undoubtedly similar.) Actually, it was mostly "King William", plus the tracks and the projects and the unimproved section of the river -- i.e. stuff nobody from outside the area gave much thought to. Now the area's forged a coherent (external) identity, the coffee shops and art galleries are generally breaking even, and the city's pouring resources into the infrastructure. The changes since I left continue to startle.

Not that the trajectory wasn't clear long ago. My parents arrived with a wave of writers and other creative types who came for the old houses and depressed property values. In hindsight, it's one of the few parts of San Antonio that the New Urbanists would approve of, having largely retained its foot-and-streetcar-centric design from the turn of the century. Not that much of anyone can actually go without a car, because the present-day bus service is fairly useless as an actual mass-transit system. Nevertheless, it's been vaguely stodgy-bohemian for a while, in exactly the sort of way that gradually attracts the house restorers, coffee shop and restaurant entepreneurs, and eventually the Blue Star art complex (think the Minneapolis Warehouse District, but with more grain elevators). Around then the city built a massive stadium across the highway from the projects, and then decided that the projects had to go. Fifteen years or so later the place is hip, from what I gather, and now it just has to walk a tightrope between succeeding in spite of San Antonio's typically crappy economy and gentrifying out all the interesting people.

A final note: according to the correction appended to the bottom of that article the Pig Stand is closed. Has been for ages, in fact. However, the Pig is still there. (I didn't have a photo of this thing, but seek on Flickr and ye shall find.)

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This page contains a single entry by Milligan published on February 19, 2007 10:10 AM.

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